OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
11:58 AM – Thursday, November 16, 2023
A 50-year-old man has been detained in connection to the death of a Jewish protestor who was killed while counter-protesting during a pro-Palestine demonstration in Ventura, California.
On Thursday, Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji, a college professor, was taken into custody for the death of Paul Kessler, 69, who was involved in a physical altercation with pro-Palestine protesters on November 5th, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim “fell backward and hit his head on the ground” during the scuffle, and later died the next day in the hospital.
Kessler was reportedly seen waving an Israeli flag just minutes before the deadly incident. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a rabbi who spoke to witnesses of the incident alleged that Kessler was “struck with a megaphone” before his plunge.
After the altercation occurred, witnesses say that they saw him lying on the pavement while two women, including one who was wearing a “Free Palestine” jacket, came to help him, according to video footage.
The sheriff’s office said that Kessler’s autopsy revealed that his death was ruled as a homicide, with the cause being a “blunt force head injury.”
Alnaji, the assailant, will be detained at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility on “involuntary manslaughter charges,” authorities say.
Later on Thursday, authorities also said that a charging decision for Alnaji can be expected. The bail amount has been set at $1 million.
“Throughout their investigation, prosecutors have been in daily consultation with the Sheriff’s Office and are finalizing review of the evidence,” the district attorney’s office said.
Officials additionally mentioned that they had not ruled out the potential of a hate crime for the case. However, they did not say if such a charge was guaranteed.
Under California penal code, involuntary manslaughter is described as an occurrence when a person is killed by an illegal act that is not as serious as a felony or by a legal act that has the potential to result in death illegally or carelessly.
Moshe Bryski, a rabbi from Chabad of Agoura Hills, California, told reporters that Kessler’s death was “a tragedy.”
“You don’t expect people to go to a rally and not come home,” Bryski said.
Bryski also mentioned that Kessler’s wife was in “state of total shock” when he called to inform her of the tragic altercation. Despite the fact that Alnaji was arrested, authorities advised anyone with additional information about the incident to come forward and, if at all possible, to share any video footage.
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